Danish food ingredients group Danisco has denied rumours circulating in the local press that it is in talks to sell its stake in US biotech company Genencor.
Alf Duch-Pedersen, CEO of Dansico issued a statement following reports in the local Danish daily Berlingske Tidende that the ingredients group was involved in negotiations with US Eastman Chemicals to sell its slice in Genencor for DK3.5 billion.
"Danisco has not made any decision to put the shareholding up for sale," said Duch-Pedersen. Although he did choose to add: "As stated at the company's Annual General Meeting on 28 August 2003, we do not find it to be expedient to own around 40 per cent of Genencor in the long term when another investor owns a corresponding amount of shares. We have therefore since Genencor's IPO in 2000 treated our stake in Genencor as a financial asset, which can be reduced or increased at the appropriate point in time." Which could, arguably, open the door to certain speculation.
In March this year executive vice president at Danisco Søren Bjerre-Nielsen denied the same rumour, commenting at a press and analyst meeting that despite the fact that in the 2002 financial year the biotech company had negatively impacted consolidated profits before tax and minority interests by DK5 million (€673,400), its stake was still not up for sale.
Genencor reported a drop in operating income of more than 40 per cent for 2002, representing a net loss for shareholders of $0.02 per diluted share.
In 1999, Danisco acquired Cultor - now Danisco Finland - which in turn owned Genencor in a joint venture with the Eastman Chemical Company.
When Genencor floated on NASDAQ in 2000, Duch- Pedersen commented: "We'd never have paid so much for Cultor had it not been for Genencor. We were very much aware of Genencor's potential - although its business area differs slightly from Danisco's."At the time, Danisco's holding - just under 40 per cent - was worth around DK 4 billion.
In 2000 Genencor achieved a ranking as the second-largest supplier of industrial enzymes worldwide with a market share of nearly 25 per cent. The company markets and sells approximately 250 products grouped into three general functional categories: enzymes that break down protein, enzymes that break down starch and enzymes that break downcellulose.